Hot chocolate lovers in the Wellington region will be salivating when the country’s only hot chocolate challenge and newly introduced masterclasses, arrive in the Hutt Valley this month.

The “Sweet As” Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Challenge, will see 16 hospitality operators including cafes, restaurants, bars and a bakery in Lower Hutt create their own signature hot chocolate drinks for people to enjoy over three weeks.

Customers will be the given the chance to vote for their favourite drink by ballot or on Sweet As Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Facebook page, with the winner declared at the end of the challenge which takes place between 5-29 July.

The challenge, founded by the Hutt City Council as a way to inspire local cafes to be creative as well as encourage people to brave the cold and venture out to the CBD, has grown in popularity since it was launched in 2015.

“When we first started four years ago we had 10 participants – this year we have 16 hospitality operators involved, an increase of almost 60 per cent! And the number of hot chocolates consumed keeps rising too – almost 15,000 hot chocolates have been made since the challenge began in 2015. We are excited to see what’s in store for this year!” says Council’s CBD Development Manager Cyndi Christensen.

Signature drinks over the past two years have ranged from the weird and whacky to delicious flavour combinations such as cardamom and rose infusion, gingerbread and toasted coconut and even a blue unicorn drink!

Customers will be in for a treat this year with a wide range of flavoursome and wonderful signature hot chocolates with alcohol or non-alcoholic versions to tempt any taste buds.

For the first time, the challenge will introduce masterclasses run by select cafes for children and adults. Colab Café will be running kid’s cupcake and adult cake decorating classes, how to make the perfect barista hot chocolate as well as chocolate making classes. And Buzz is back with a vengeance offering a “Death by Hot Chocolate” evening where people can learn, taste, drink and eat all things chocolate!

Christensen says “It’s a great opportunity for people to get out of the house over winter, try out new cafes they otherwise wouldn’t have usually frequented as well as bring family and friends together socially over a delicious hot chocolate! It also gives businesses in the Hutt Valley participating a real boost in terms of customers and exposure. Last year’s winner Buzz sold 900 hot chocolates during the challenge, averaging 56 hot chocolates a day!  And many of the cafes continued to offer their signature drinks to customers because they were such a hit,”

2018 Sweet As Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Challenge booklet will highlight every hot chocolate in the challenge for scoring, tasting notes and you can collect stamps to win a variety of prizes throughout this year’s challenge.

Members of the public will also be able to get their hot chocolate fix at Waterloo Train Station on 2 July from 7am-9am and Petone Train Station on 4 July from 7am-9am at the ‘Sweet As’ Hot Chocolate Pop-up Stations.

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